What were you doing when you were 18? Well if your name is Rob Savage, you were writing and directing your first feature film. The film in question is Strings, and it has been nominated at the British Independent Film Awards.
Who knew what they wanted to do when they were 18 years old? It’s rare enough to have an idea, but to plan and execute said idea is no mean feat. When that inkling is to make a feature film, you would think that you were living in Los Angeles, not the Midlands. But that is exactly what Rob Savage has done. Using the money from his paper round and from those few jobs that you have as a teenager to fund his dream, his story is one that could have come from the bright lights of Hollywood.
Inspired by the German drama Requiem, a story about an epileptic woman who believes she is possessed, Savage put pen to paper and began to write his own feature. Requiem featured an award winning performance by Sandra Huller, who scooped the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival; the actress encouraged the aspiring film maker to pursue his dream and create his own tour de force. He contacted her upon seeing her performance and they became firm friends. When Savage embarked on his own journey, Huller was there to guide him through the German side of his project. Possibly in a nod to the film that kick-started it for him, Savage chose to develop Strings in English and German. The help of Huller was invaluable in casting the German parts and a translator was present on set as amazingly, Savage does not speak German.
Strings itself is centred on a German exchange student called Grace who begins a relationship with a quiet British boy called Jon. Grace, played by Philine Lembeck, is due to return to Munich and to her warring family before she embarks on an impulsive pairing with the shy Jon, played by Oliver Malam. The film also features another coupling in Grace’s friend Scout, played by Hannah Wilder and her relationship with her long-term boyfriend Chris (Sid Akbar Ali).
Teen romance is featured in many a film, but the subject matter differs from the usual fare. Savage is enticing us into the personal lives of the four youngsters at a time where they are experiencing love and the multitude of emotions that come with it, at a pivotal age. The destructive and violent side of relationships requires a delicate touch and belying his young age, Savage has steered us into the centre of their often raw and haunting partnerships, with the ease of a seasoned film maker. There is no doubt that the mentoring he has received from directors Gareth Edwards and Marc Price has helped, but there is no denying that the talent and drive from the young man has been instrumental in not only his, but the films rise to prominence.
On November 5th the nominations for the British Independent Film Awards were announced, and Strings has been nominated in the category for The Raindance Award.
Elliot Grove, Founder of the Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards added: “The Raindance Award has become the beacon for new talent. These five films show what Raindance is all about: great acting, storytelling and production values, each made with limited resources against impossible odds.”
The statement couldn’t be closer to the truth, as Savage managed to fund the film himself on a budget of only £3000, acting as writer, director, co-producer and director of photography. On December 9th 2012, all of the hard work will be recognised as Cold Feet star James Nesbitt presides over the 15th annual BIFA ceremony. It’s not the only nomination that Strings has received, as it was also up for the Best Debut at the Raindance Film Festival, not to mention being shown at the International film Festival of Rome, or Festival Internazionale del Film di Roma if you’re feeling flash, where it was in the running for the New Talent award. There was also the small matter of the film winning Savage a place at the Berlin Film Festival Talent Campus, where he was mentored by such luminaries as Mike Leigh and Werner Herzog.
Now aged 20, the only way is forward for the talented young man who followed his ambition to tell his stories to the world. We’ll certainly be keeping an eye on his development and will be watching in December to see how he and the film fare, mingling with Meryl and dancing with Dench, at the BIFAs. Keep a look out for the film in early 2013 and to all those paperboys and girls, save those Christmas tips. They might help you follow your dream someday. Or at least buy you a cinema ticket.